Language blunders - Good learning points for all

Reports of a wrong Chinese character used at the Speak Mandarin Campaign launch and inaccurate Tamil translation of the National Day Parade theme on pamphlets have been making the rounds in the media.

These incidents have raised questions about proficiency in our mother tongue languages, as well as the translation standards in Singapore.

Although the relevant departments apologised swiftly for the blunders (Language gaffes: Two event organisers say sorry; July 12), some members of the public continued to express their unhappiness and disappointment on online forums.

From their perspective, such mistakes indicated that review processes are weak, reflecting a lack of respect for the mother tongue languages.

While their responses are expected and understandable, we can move forward by looking at these incidents as learning opportunities.

While a relook of the review processes is necessary to prevent such occurrences, the relevant departments should take this chance to explain the differences between these characters in a fun and light-hearted manner and educate everyone.

Tay Meng How

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 14, 2017, with the headline 'Language blunders - Good learning points for all'. Print Edition | Subscribe